Friday, January 30, 2009

US Airways Flight 1549: View from a pilot who was a passenger on board

Trebor Banstetter, who writes the Sky Talk blog for, has posted A view of Flight 1549 from another pilot. It is an account of the US Airways A320 that ditched in the Hudson River earlier this month, written by a 'jumpseating' American Airlines B767 pilot who was seated in the passenger cabin on that flight.

The pilot says she heard "several loud thumps occurring roughly simultaneously along both sides of the aircraft." She described smoke and "the stench of burning bird" as the aircraft began a left turn. She thought they were returning to LaGuardia until she realized they were not maintaining altitude.

Then came the PA announcement from the flight deck to "Brace for impact."
Obviously we weren’t returning to LGA, and I could see enough out the window to realize we’d be landing in the river. The flight attendants began shouting their “brace” litanies and kept it up until touchdown. The descent seemed very controlled, and the sink rate reasonably low. I believed the impact would be violent but survivable, although I did consider the alternative. The passengers remained calm and almost completely quiet. As we approached the water, I braced by folding my arms against the seat back in front of me, then putting my head against my arms. There was a brief hard jolt, a rapid decel and we were stopped. It was much milder than I had anticipated. If the jolt had been turbulence, I would have described it as moderate. Thinking about it later on, I realized it was no worse than a carrier landing.
The pilot goes on to describe the evacuation, the rescue of passengers and crew by the boats, the scene on shore, and the aftermath. She praises the entire crew of US Airways Flight 1549, and especially Capt. Sullenberger for his leadership role throughout the flight, ditching, and evacuation, and continuing after everyone was ashore. She describes the assistance she received from US Airways staff and USAPA, and later, her own airline and union.

It's a fascinating read. Go have a look: here's the link.

RELATED: Click here to view all posts about US Airways Flt 1549 on Aircrew Buzz.